When you create an outbound SMS marketing campaign, you hope to get into someone’s pocket and be opened and actioned. When a customer sends you an inbound SMS, the whole relationship is reversed. They’re not just contacting you and giving up personal details for something in return, they’re also engaging your brand, building your list, and providing analytics on what offers are working.
The best part? All the data is fed into your marketing automation platform for a sophisticated response that incorporates email, social, landing pages and web site.
What is Inbound SMS marketing?
The most common type of inbound SMS is where customers text in to enter a competition. This is done with a specified number or a unique short code (eg: Text GIMME to 43556).
Businesses can respond with automated messages and the entire two-way conversation is processed online via a unified marketing automation platform. For example, a message sent to your system could generate an automated response “Thanks for entering our competition, you’re one step closer to winning a live T-Rex.”
Why use inbound SMS?
Personal mobile devices are more pervasive than ever and bring a range of conveniences to the user. For marketers, the spontaneity offered with inbound SMS creates benefits including:
- Seamless integration to unified marketing automation systems
- Expanded campaigns to include a new channel
- Receive SMS messages online and send automated responses
- Build a phone list for added marketing opportunities
- Create segmented lists of highly engaged customers
- Measure the effectiveness of print campaigns
- Manage responses across a range of platforms from any location
- Forward inbound keywords to relevant parts of the business
Inbound SMS campaigns require a coordinated effort across all marketing channels to ensure maximum success. Here’s some ways to use inbound SMS in you marketing campaigns:
#1 Short codes to make it easy for customers
Offering a reason for customers to SMS to enter sounds easy enough. The phone is in their pocket, they are right there. But they have to unlock the phone, open the messaging app, type a long number in, type a message, click send.
Inbound SMS marketing allows for 5-digit Short Codes to be sent. These can be easy to remember and easy to enter, making it easy for users – anything you can do to lower barriers of entry is a good thing.
#2 Use a keyword
An alternative to short codes or long numbers is to use a keyword, so that every message that comes in using that keyword is automatically forwarded to a relevant inbox – eg: YOLO to 45456.
Make sure that any keywords fit your business. Make it memorable, easy to spell, and plan for any potential auto-corrections that can void a number of entries.
#3 Is this Ad even working?
Understanding what ads are working is critical to finetuning your message for the audiences you want. You’re already a deft hand at split testing response rates with digital marketing efforts. Inbound SMS lets you step up those efforts to include online and offline marketing.
Printed ads, posters, flyers, catalogues can all have a call to action with a specific number or short code to SMS. The incoming results will provide a clear indication of which campaign is effective.
You can instantly follow up their enquiry with automated responses.
#4 Share the load
When an inbound SMS campaign starts to deliver, it can be tricky for one person to manage. However because these messages are being processed online in your marketing automation platform, different team members can be assigned or forwarded responses as needed.
Inbound SMS entries can be forwarded to mobile phones, email addresses, or even trigger actions from APIs on your website, landing page or social channel.
#5 Auto respond for instant gratification
Customers love to know that the action they’ve taken has been processed. It’s that feeling that it’s happening right now. Automated responses provide real time messages to let the customer know what’s happened to the action they just took. If further follow up is required, then that can also happen and be part of the dynamic response.
In fact, responses can be automatically metered out over a period of time – hours, days, weeks, whatever is appropriate.
Inbound SMS is an excellent campaign tactic to take advantage of the ubiquitous mobile device. More importantly, it is processed online and integrated with marketing automation systems so campaigns are sent and received from a central dashboard.
For more help on getting the benefits of inbound SMS and marketing automation, contact our digital experts at Traction Digital and take your campaigns to the next level.